Here, is a rock


A short distance from my house is a rock.

More of a boulder, actually. A small boulder. Still, it’s perfectly visible. Near the side of a main road, not even three miles from my driveway. It’s the type of rock you probably would never notice. You could drive past it for years and not even consider it.

This rock is a bit different though. There’s a plaque mounted on it. And, a few feet away, one of those official-looking, state-department-of-transportation-style, blue background with white writing metal signs indication that there is an attraction nearby and more or less confirming that this is a special rock.

Many years ago, I was in the mall during the holidays and I decided to purchase one of those fancy framed family heritage crest and history prints. The lion part was pretty neat. Musket at the lion’s feet was cool. I still don’t know how to merge the lion and the musket with the seagull though.

Yes. Seagull.

The family coat of arms is a lion with a musket. The crest? Well… it’s a seagull… “rising all proper”… on a rock.

Have you ever spent any time around seagulls? I have. Plenty of trips to beaches. Plenty of drives to the ocean. Plenty of seagulls, looking for fries and clam strips, getting just a bit too close to you and your delicious meal for comfort.

It can be, frankly, a bit difficult trying to merge those fry chomping invaders on an otherwise delightful day with the majestic image of a family crest. Not quite unsettling. But definitely difficult. And that difficulty comes with a bit of a punch line.

After offering the lion and the musket we learn about the seagull and the rock. And from there, the family motto. (Ready? Ok…)

“Here God is a rock.”

Perch a seagull on top of a rock, and I do believe you would also have a few thoughts about majestic images.

Out in the San Francisco Bay there happens to be an island. Pretty famous island. You likely know it for Alcatraz. You probably also know it by it’s nickname. The Rock.

Funny thing, rock. You hear an expression—say, just selecting at random, like “Here God is a rock”—and for most of us the context of the statement might lead you to think about anything from the perfect stone for skipping across calm water to a foundation for building a castle. The size and scope and use changes. Greatly. But I am not a geologist. A geologist likely shuddered a few lines ago at a point where most of you did not. It was when I said the rock by the road was bigger, more of a boulder. Rocks and boulders are not the same thing. Pebbles and cobbles and boulders… that’s a question of size. Rock is a question of materials and composition. Some rocks you can hold in your hand. Some rocks you would need massive equipment to move.

I have never really paid much attention to that rock off to the side of the road. But the other day, while stopped in a bit of traffic, I had an extra moment to look away from traffic and I saw the sign. Sign directed attention to a rock, and wondering if that rock next to it was the rock allowed me to recognize it must be since there was a plaque mounted on it.

I’ve seen larger rocks than this historical artifact brought in to neighborhoods for landscaping reasons. You might even call those landscaping rocks prettier. More noticeable. Those rocks have no plaques. Those rocks are quite unlikely to ever earn state-department-of-transportation-sign level status. In a wild attempt at paraphrasing, we have a sign… we have a plaque… we have history saying: “Here, is a rock.” No… wait… emphasis…

“Here,” the plaque shouts, “here, is a rock.”

Which in turn brings about questions of interpretation, and in some ways just might connect some thoughts to the rock near my house, a seagull, and a motto.

Over the years I’ve done a bit of research. And I’ve found stories… virtually all unverifiable and hidden in the “well, I can always hope this is true” segment of thoughts… with several involving a brave defense against attackers, taking place on a beach with some cover being provided by rocks along the beach. In some stories rocky cliffs along the beach. In others, rocks on the beach. Both, at least, allow for stretching and matching to another found offering that “here God is a rock” was being offered as a battle cry.

There is also information floating about that discusses times of religious turmoil, often with movement, migration, and resettlement. Moving for religious reasons… perhaps a long and difficult journey… seagulls can be seen as a sign of approaching land… and, now one more time: “Here God is a rock.” Salvation and hope provided after a challenging effort.

And so… certainly, found in a bit of a personal definition… a fierce and determined adventurer (lion and musket), embarking on a journey and eventually finding the destination (appearance of a seagull), and welcoming the new land upon which the future will be built (the rock).

Stretching it bit? Perhaps. But there are plenty of things around you right now, with significance and purpose, that you may have never noticed (or at least not fully understood). My seagull and a rock could be your horse and a feather (though I have no idea what your story may be in that case).

And, somewhere nearby you at this very moment, there likely is a building or a rock or some type of monument. It blends into the scenery and you’ve never really given it any attention. And yet it has a story. It has a history that makes it a bit more than a simple rock. It’s just a question, literally and figuratively, of materials and composition.

If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at